BY Steve Hui
For business owners, credit cards are often a vital part of managing cashflow. But have you considered how you can use paying your everyday expenses to fly Business class?
In my view, using points which can be earned through a credit card is the cheapest way to fly Business class.
Using points can get you regularly flying Business class for less than half-the-cash-price.
The basics of the idea is to collect points via paying bills on your credit card for small card surcharges. You then can use those points to redeem a full Business class booking (not an upgrade) and you’ll find the cost of fees paid to collect the points is less than the value of the booked ticket.
Here are my top three pro-tips you’ll need to understand in order to benefit:
1. Forget about earning points from flying, the new game is earning points from all your spending.
They should rename the program from frequent flyer points to frequent spenders points. Earning points from taking flights is erratic and conflicted. Often there are cheaper flights with a different airline but you are handcuffed to collect points, so you choose to pay more.
On the other hand, earning points from using credit cards allows you to earn more points depending on how much spend you use the card for, it is a set $1 = X points.
2. Which card is best for me?
The first question should actually be what are the best points for me, and the last question is which is the best card, so that by using the right card I can get the points that I want.
Understand what you want to be using the points for by considering where you want to travel. Different airlines charge different points to fly to the same destination, and service frequency is different. For domestic, both Qantas and Virgin are evenly matched and charge similar points. For travel to Europe, using Qantas points is 25% higher than using Singapore KrisFlyer points — so you’ll want to be using the right points to book.
You should also think about who you want to travel, be it family, friends or staff. Qantas points are only legitimately allowed to book for family, while Virgin and Emirates points allow you to use your points to book under the name of anyone you fancy.
3. Should I pay with my card when they charge fees?
You can pay nearly all your every-day company bills with a credit card, excluding direct wages, loans and interest. Every dollar could be collecting you points.
For each business owner this is a cost vs benefit assessment. If by using points you get Business class for a lot cheaper than the price of a cash ticket then you are doing it right. Think of it like you are buying points by paying fees, and then using those points to get you a very cheap ticket.
The right level of credit card surcharges to pay as a rule of thumb is less than 2% for AMEX and less than 1% for VISA/Mastercard.
Every business is different depending on their own suppliers, but this serves as a good guide to ensure you’ll get value from all your points without getting deep into the spreadsheet calculations.
Using points right is more like financial planning than travel, because the key components in winning are about getting the numbers right.
Once the numbers stack up, you’ll know that using points is the cheapest way to fly Business class every time.
Steve Hui is the Founder and Chief Executive of www.iFLYflat.com.au. He specifically helps the people who run SMEs to access Business class travel for half-the-cash-price, by utilising points in a strategic way. With this niche, Steve has become the ‘go-to’ in Australia for frequent flyer points or credit card rewards commentary, regularly featured across various media. His background is numbers, ex-accounting and finance with 11 years at Macquarie Bank.